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Sierra Leone’s VP Defines ‘New Direction’ As A ‘State of Mind’

Sierra Leone’s VP Defines ‘New Direction’ As A ‘State of Mind’

Dr. Juldeh Jalloh, Sierra Leone Vice President has on Tuesday, October 15, said Paopa is a methodology for the ‘New Direction’ focusing in on ‘a relentless engagement with strategies to deliver this country.’

A loud round of applause followed his comments when he described the policies driving his SLPP government. The Vice President said this during the Launching of the Review of the Local Government Act (LGA2004) and the Decentralization Policy (2010) at the Miata Conference Hall.

Dr. Jalloh thanked the honorable minters for having him as the chairman of the inter-ministerial committee. He then stoutly explained that the English meaning of the ‘New Direction’ is a state of mind, which underscores the methodology of the Paopa system. Other languages, he noted, will soon be used to explicate its English meaning as consistent with our cultural milieu. Recentralization is, he said, ‘an avant-garde.’ “Government will decentralize, decentralized, and decentralized again. So we are not coming back to the centre,” the Vice President maintained.

“Let me use this opportunity to tell the chairman of the Paramount Chieftaincy Council and the chiefs that, come January 2020, you will hear news. Whether the news will be good or bad I can’t say at this stage. Let me tell the Paramount chiefs that we are cognizant of the fact that every time we have opportunity to engage, particularly when I move around in the countryside, we listen to you. We know there are challenges. When we meet the councils, they always say that the paramount chiefs are collecting taxes and they are not sharing it with us. We are going to review the stipend. I am delighted to be the chairman of the inter-ministerial council,” he went on.

Dr. Jalloh added, “We want to focus our attention to the local service commission. Why we focus on local councils, but also on the productivity sector to generate revenue…We have revitalized the inter-ministerial committee for local governance….taken strategic decisions and moved towards institutionalizing best practices.”

“This is very important, not because we don’t want politics at the local level,” he noted, “but we believe the nature of political competitiveness in Sierra Leone does not favor gender participation in politics.  We believe that politics is too rough. I‘ll give you a story. I have a cousin of mine, a lady, who wants to contest for counselor in the Loko Masama Chiefdom. The husband is the first person that going around campaigning against her. It tells you the terrain is very rough,” he said. “When we have the right legal framework and our regulatory framework, we’ll be able to have more women, not only into local politics, but also into national politics,” said Dr. Jalloh.

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr. Tamba John Lamina, said in his maiden speech, after thanking other dignitaries and ministers, that, “At the time in 2004 when the Act was enacted, there were about 90 councils, today we have22. At the time when the Act was enacted, our population was about 3 million; today it is believed to be about 7million. The geographical experts and also the changes in settlements all over the country warrant that we cannot continue to have the sorts of instrument that guides local governance in the country. And that is why it is very important that today after the changes imminent in the paramount chieftaincy settled from 149 to 190, we need to look at the processes that guide local governance in this country.”

He said: “This government under the leadership of His Excellency, Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio, is committed to completing the tasks set out a decade and half ago. We know it was an unfinished business and we have to finish it.”

There are also two consultants with support from the UNDP are guiding the conversations.

He said that the conversations have already started.  Noting that, “Basic local services in Bonthe, Kono, Falaba, should no longer be made by remote official in Freetown. But the exact nature of those changes be made and be based on broad consensus and following on a wide range of consultation in the country. We believe the review must be inclusive, must be engaged in fairness and be based on democracy. And engage the councils themselves. The ordinary sierra Leonean must be included,” said TJ Lamina.

The Deputy Minister said that her ministry has allocated Le3 Billion to the local government. “You ought to be aware that the misstep in the implementation of the Gov’t decentralization process is almost years after 2014. Hence this review presents a unique opportunity to correct this anomaly. I am happy that we are in assessment of the policy and the Act. Hon. Vice President, we have learnt lessons over the last fifteen years. We have learnt what went wrong in regards to the policy and in relation to the law.

“As a champion of decentralization, the ministry of finance is particularly interested in the process give its implications, its implementation and the achievements of its strategic objectives. Of implementing and strengthening fiscal decentralization for improved service delivery at a local level.”

“As part of our commitment to strengthening the local government, We are happy to report that we have financed 100 percent of the process out of their own regional resources. The Ministry of Finance has financed Le3Billion to all the 22 local councils across the country to demonstrate ownership of the process and to strengthening good governance at local council level. All stakeholders should have inputs as we move to 2020 that has now been declared as the Year of Local Government in the country,” said Madame Patricia Lavalie.

By Amira Tatayea Bangura

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